Written by Stuart Foxman

The closet is full but you don’t have a thing to wear. So you root through the hangers and shelves, feeling unhappy about the choices.

That’s a common feeling for many women, says Laura Bryce, one that causes stress and wastes time. Just as bad is the wasted expense. Big numbers of discarded outfits are worn only a few times.

To solve the problem, Bryce and partner Kelly Pigeon founded dresst (dresst.ca) in 2019. It’s a subscription service where members can rent three clothing items at a time, wear them for a month, and then return them. If something doesn’t look or fit right, members can swap it out. The e-commerce platform is powered by Shopify.

“We have a closet that’s in season and on trend,” says Bryce.

There are options for work wear, big events, vacations and just everyday use. Members can filter choices by size, season, use and type. Every month, new items arrive (highlighted in its own section on the site), and the selection is continually expanding.

The items available have an average retail price of $200-$300 per item, making the monthly rentals worth up to $900. A dresst subscription costs $99 a month, and shipping is free (both ways). There’s also an option to rent just a single item for $49. Members can cancel or pause membership any time.

All clothes are dry cleaned and inspected between uses. If members love an item, they can purchase it for up to 50% off the retail price. At the end of an item’s life, dresst plans to donate it to charity.

The two dresst founders were friends before launching their company. Bryce was a VP at FleishmanHillard High Road, a public relations firm. She helped clients hone their strategies and build their brands. Pigeon ran the Band-Aid brand for Johnson & Johnson. At dresst, Bryce serves as the chief marketing officer and Pigeon as CEO.

Their Toronto startup was born out their personal experience and frustration. Between them, they figured they had 400 items of clothing, and were still spending a fair bit every year.

“We had a personal problem we were trying to solve, and a clear business opportunity. We thought there had to be a better way,” says Pigeon.

How many of the outfits that populate what Pigeon calls “a closet of regret” end up in landfills every year? She cites one study that says women throw away 80 pounds or 36 kilograms of clothing a year. Dresst is good for staying in fashion, cutting clutter and helping the environment.

For now, dresst is exclusively available in Ontario. Last year dresst raised $525,000 during a seed round. Bryce and Pigeon are using the investment to increase the size of dresst’s “virtual closet”, boost customer acquisition, and improve the online customer experience.

They call dresst the closet you always wanted but never had. “We’re looking to bring items into the closet that women will feel confident wearing,” says Bryce.

Photo credit: Plexman Studio